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Cathryn

Ear tag readers

I'll be heading off to a farming forum shortly but does anyone on here have experience of these? Aside from weighing up how useful one might be to us I've been set the task of researching which might be the most useful and reliable and won't go out of date too quickly. There is quite a variety of options, some read the code and then you upload the data when you're back home, some give you information there and then. That will depend on what we need one for of course but any information you have will be helpful.
Rob R

There was a good article in FW the week before last that summarised the options, if that's any good? We've got a stick reader at the moment which is useful in so much as you've got a bit more reach but it only gives the tag number. I'm going to go for an all singing all dancing version with full animal records on the handheld, when I have the funds & we're starting to tag all EID in the cattle from the next tag run later this year. The weigh scale is great but by far the biggest time cost of doing the job is trying to determine the eartag, writing it down & trying to work out the numbers after you've picked the clipboard out of the puddle.
Cathryn

That's useful, thanks Rob. I hadn't even thought about a weigh scale addition. Can imagine that would be very costly. I would like the full animal records but I am not sure yet if there would be any real advantage in the way we currently farm.

I bet that FW is sitting unwrapped in the kitchen, too hectic to read them at the moment.
Rob R

I forgot to add that I find the stick reader cumbersome and keeping it out of the way of the animals when you put it down is an issue. I hung it on a crook on the shed leg and kept whacking it on the leg. One advantage of not having the money to spend up front is that it's given me plenty of time to really think about what we want/need. Victor at Pharmweigh speaks plain English about what is available, and I'd recommend him happily as a supplier of a system as he's got future-proofing at the forefront of his mind.
Cathryn

In Wales we have been offered a grant to cover half the cost! (Farmers and GP's don't do anything unless their paid to.) Cynically I wonder if it is because so far very few farms are using them and yet they need to justify EID. The obvious use for us would be to smart mark anything with, for example chronic foot problems. Currently we use a spray marker. We don't have a closed flock though so quite how useful would that be.
Rob R

There's another article in the same issue about a sheep farmers experience of it, which I also found very useful.

Then check Jess Jeans piece at the back of this week's copy (believe it or not, I don't even get FW!) about the need to pass information through the supply chain.

I think farmers have masses to gain from using it, as it's being forced on us anyway, we may as well make the most of it. All other industries use similar recording to improve efficiency and failure rates, and it benefits the animals too.

I know a lot of stockmen know every animal and six generations back which is fine if all you do is look after stock but for me I have so many other things to be thinking about that being able to recall & record accurate information in the field is a real plus.
Cathryn

So far we are not convinced that it will be of any benefit for the way we currently farm. We lamb outdoors, unless the range of the device is quite big, we may not be able to scan the ewe and record whether she has had twins or not or any other detail therefore. We don't tag the lambs at birth, we don't bring them in unless we absolutely have to, we don't weigh them on any regular basis because we have no need to. We handle and mess with them as little as possible which is good for us as well as them.

Somebody else is doing the recording that we need as we buy performance recorded rams. One of the main traits we look at when buying a ram is good mothering performance so they will lamb easily outdoors. We would possibly buy performance recorded ewes but there aren't many to suit our system and most of those are the breeders rejects.

I think we won't be buying one yet despite the grant.
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